The Jedi Community: History and Folklore of a Fiction-based Religion

Markus Altena Davidsen

Abstract


The Jedi Community is a loose confederation of groups and individuals who, inspired by George Lucas’ Star Wars movies, have adopted an identity as Jedi Knights. Contrary to Star Wars fans who may occasionally and temporarily play as Jedi, members of the Jedi Community aim to simply be Jedi Knights – always and everywhere. They will even say that they are the real Jedi – as opposed to the fictional Jedi of the movies. Members of the Jedi Community also believe that the Force, the cosmic power from Star Wars, actually exists in the real world. An important part of the practice as Jedi Knights is thus to study the Force and connect with it in ritual. This article provides the most comprehensive overview to date of the Jedi Community. It sketches the history of the Jedi Community since its emergence from the online Star Wars roleplaying community in the late 1990s, and presents an overview of the Community members’ core beliefs and practices. Throughout, due attention is paid to the divergent views on issues of doctrine, practice, and identity held by the two main factions within the Jedi Community, the Jedi Realists, for whom the Jedi Path is a spiritual way of life, and the Jediists who seek to develop Jediism into a full-fledged and legally recognized religion.

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